COLONIE: Pumpkin a hefty squash

Pamela, who is in charge of the growing, uses a precise formula of nitrogen and phosphorus derived and delivered through fish emulsions and seaweed. They are tips she picked up in "How to Grow Giant Pumpkins. Vol. II."

Bob tills the corner of the yard each year. And after the pumpkins are harvested, he digs up the vines and sets them out front for waste collectors.

"I have six (trash) barrels for the town. I had 18 barrels filled with just vines," he said.

Both are a bit heavy in their hearts as they talk of plans to clean what remains of their giant pumpkin and harvest the seeds for next year.

Pamela spent $7 this year on three seeds of giant stock from a former record-holding pumpkin grower in Nova Scotia.

She seems reluctant to have to go through the loss again. But she is not beaten.

Everything she grows in the garden is big, from leeks to fennel, dill and tomatoes. The garden wouldn't be the same without the Colligan pumpkin patch.

The Cooperstown weigh-off was the first such event the couple had attended. A spark flickered in Pamela's eye when the two recalled seeing entries this year that didn't match her roughly 4-foot tall, 343-pounder.

The irony is many of the contestants are farmers who for whatever reason till a small portion of their larger lots to grow a few giant pumpkins in hopes of landing "the big one," both commented.

For the Colligans, it's special that they do it in a small neighborhood in Loudonville. They typically give none away, nor do they sell any of the harvest. Instead, they set the bounty out front for all to see, or marvel, as was the case with the latest giant.

They prefer the wide-eyed neighborhood children eager to get a photo of themselves being dwarfed by a fruit. As the two look over the pile of seeds peering from inside the rotting giant, it's obvious that next year Pamela and Bob will be back at it again next year.

There were some lessons learned, said Pamela.""

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